Some one once asked "Somerset Maugham" where he got his inspiration. His reply was the following, " I get my inspiration every morning between 9 am and 1 pm when I do my writing." Inspiration is a poor excuse for not working at your craft every day. A holiday for an artist is finding time to work on a creative project — the satisfaction is in the doing — the process itself is an environment of tranquillity and purpose. What the world thinks comes second. In many respects it’s like improvising music on the piano, you don’t know where it will lead, but it’s a most pleasing experience in the moment. To the artist within each of us!! Happy New Year!
I have been listening and watching "Maestro Daniel Barenboim," truly one of the great artists of our time, perform all of Schubert's piano sonatas on Medici.tv. Schubert's sonatas are less structured than Beethoven's in many respects, but they contain a sense of improvisatory freshness.
One can feel in the music, at least I can, the sense of the moment of creation, as if he is a Jazz musician not knowing where the musical ideas will take him. For me, it's an emotional compositional ride down the musical rapids from a creative spirit! Schubert, the first song writer and Jazz Musician! Bravo! IMHO.
BTW, Schubert would write music from 6 am to 2 pm every day of his short life!
This morning I was listening to the "ol' blue eyes is back" album by Sinatra from 1973. Such gorgeous singing and beautiful selection of songs.
It puts the heart at rest, gives room for fresh feelings, especially during the Christmas Holidays, to reminisce in your emotional space. A feel good place!
Here is a great quote by Mr. Sinatra about singing a song: "Sing the lyric not the words ." This philosophy of vocal acting, the nuance of the words, the shading of the various meanings of thoughts, the arc of the melodic line, it's all there when you listen to "Sinatra." This LP is 45 years old and still speaks to me as if it was recorded today. Thank you Mr. Sinatra!
He's the north star of vocal song interpretation!
Will power is clarity of thought married to desire!
Having studied a good many years in music and stretched my mental muscles into flexible possibilities of experience, I came to the conclusion, which often leads me astray, that the labor of love and intense desire to satisfy my thirst for creativity is an endless challenge. Its rewards are in the doing!
The timeless repetition of thinking about the process, of corralling the self-doubts and taming the enthusiasm, in other words, putting the emotions into perspective. What a Task!
The tasting of beauty whets the appetite for more work. It doesn't seem like work, actually. Like a river flowing and trees bending in the wind, it's something you just do. The pleasure of sitting still and letting your mind wander and wonder about all sorts of images and colors. The Landscape of creativity can be vast and intriguing at best; but, one can get lost in this mirror of infinite roaming. Pick up the pencil, start writing, make it real - make it live in the home of context and limits. What a joy to define and catch the butterfly of art creating something out of the thin air of imagination!
It is August of 1976 and I am the house pianist for the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas playing the "Folies Bergere" show twice a night. I did this for six nights a week having Friday off for three years. So, on my Friday off I get a call, in the afternoon, from the contractor for the Las Vegas Hilton that the piano player for Elvis injured his arm and can't play the show that night. He asked me if I would come in and sight read the show. I agreed to this, but thinking on it now, I think I was crazy for doing it. Too much pressure. Never know what they are going to throw at you. That being said, off I go.
What can I say but playing for Elvis was pure pandemonium, not from him but from his fans. I could hardly hear him sing there was so much screaming from the ladies in the audience. Sometimes he would forget the lyrics to a song and the audience would start singing the lyrics for him. Also, some of the ladies would throw their room keys and bras up onto the stage. Elvis had to literally duck from the on coming hotel keys. On the opening number I had to play the organ. Elvis was introduced with the theme from "also sprach zarathustra" with flashing spot lights and the orchestra playing as loud as you can imagine.
"Just make sure you hit the low c on the organ," was the only instruction I got from the contractor as he handed me the music. Of course I never even spoke with the conductor. The contractor was more concerned that he could see my white Tee-shirt under my black shirt than going over the music with me. "This is not going to be fun," I thought to myself. I must mention that Elvis did a great show in spite of all the distractions from his fans. Oh, he always had this scraf around his neck and he would wipe the sweat off his face and throw it into the audience. It was like starving piranha smelling meat when he did this. The ladies in the audiences would jump out of their seats to get that scarf. Well, during the course of the performance he did notice that his regular pianist wasn't there and looked at me and said, "I was doing a great job." It's nice to get favorable feed back from a super star. When he finished his last number the spot lights started flashing and the band played even louder than the first time. I was stunned with excitement having just accompanied "The King" for a night. I can still see the setting in my mind's eye.
What a terrific memory to have stored in my brain. That night I played for "Elvis!"
Caruso - The vocal artist must remember that he does not sing with his throat but through it.
There can be no beautiful singing without a perfect tone attack. If the tone is not issued with sureness and decision,
it will be ragged and breathy, with a tendency to leave the pitch.
A calm mind facilitates the task of completely relaxing the vocal organs.
This is from the book - Caruso and the Art of Singing by Salvatore Fucito and Barnet Julius Beyer
Self rejection is the worse form of suicide. Every day you die!
Let's explore the objective/subjective realm in lyric writing. This can also be called stimulus/response technique.
Put the two concepts together and you get "objective stimulus" and "subjective response" lyric writing in a song.
Here is an example of a great standard tune using this technique, "I Thought About You" by Jimmy Van Heusen music and
the great Johnny Mercer lyrics.
First sentence stimulus - I took a trip on a train - objective
Second sentence response - and I thought about you - subjective
First sentence stimulus - I passed a shadowy lane - objective
Second sentence response - and I thought about you - subjective
First sentence stimulus - Two or three cars parked under the stars, a winding stream,- moon shining down on some little town and with each beam
At the end of the first sentence he inserts a three word response - same old dream - subjective
This song alternates between objective/subjective, stimulus/response and is a beautifully written lyric.
Take a look a the rest of the lyric and you will see this structure. The interplay between these two planes "objective/subjective" makes for a very rich dynamic in lyric writing.
"Harmonic Rhythm -" What is it? It's the rate at which the chords in a song move through time.
Here is a song by Bacharach & David called, " Walk On By." This song is 20 (twenty) bars long. It's form is ABAB. Imagine a song twenty bars long, and, yet, it was a major hit for them. One never knows!
Here is how the chords move through time. A forward slash / = one beat. Also - = bar line. This song is in 4/4 time.
am7 / D9 / - am7 / D9 / - am7 / D9 / - am7 / D9 - so for four bars there are the same chords on the first and third beats.
gm7 /// - am7 /// - gm7 /// - am7 - so for four bars there are the same two chords on the first beat of each measure
dm7/// - am7 /// - Bbma7 /// - C9sus /// so on these four bars there are four different chords changes on every bar on the first beat - variety is extremely important!
Fma7 /// - Bbma7 /// - Fma7 /// - Bbma7 ///
Fma7 /// - Bbma7 /// - Fma7 /// - Bbma7 /// And the last eight bars is a repeated chord pattern on the first beat of the bar.
It's amazing what one can do with so little in terms of Harmonic Rhythm.